Private Housing

Private Rooming Houses

What is it?

Private Rooming houses, or Boarding Houses, are usually shared accommodations that you share with 4 or more people. You pay rent to a property manager who could be a private landlord or a real-estate agent. Utilities are usually included.

Private Rooming houses differ to Community Rooming Houses (Social Housing) in their eligibility criteria and ownership/management of the houses.

Who can apply?

Rooming houses don’t have eligibility criteria, but property managers may have preferences.

Preferences mean that they might prefer to have an all female/male house or have a house for people over 55,. They might prefer a mix of genders and age in the house. Generally, rooming house managers prefer to keep certain houses more homogenous. (E.g. all male/female, under/over 55)

How do I apply?

Rooming houses are privately run businesses and each will have their own sign up process. Do not refer clients to unregistered providers. Registered private rooming house lists are available on Consumer Affairs Victoria and also from local councils.

You can access a list of registered rooming houses through you nearest homelessness entry point. The application process usually starts with contacting the property manager to find out whether they have any vacancies and what their individual application process is. They will usually ask to speak with prospective tenants or meet to inspect house and sign tenancy agreement. Check Consumer Affairs Victoria and housing.vic.gov.au for current referral processes.

Pros

  • Private rooming houses are often referred to by crisis services because they are available within a short time frame (within the day or week)
  • Generally, all bills are included as part of rent
  • If the tenant does NOT sign a lease, the tenant has more flexibility to move out if they want. Increasingly rooming houses are requesting that tenants sign a lease.

Cons

  • Rooming houses have a reputation for being unsafe, unhygienic and expensive.
  • Some of them are not registered with the local council and therefore do not adhere to legal standards. E.g. overcrowded, toilets and showers broken, poor heating, working smoke alarms, a communal area.

Find out more about Rooming Houses and rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants from Tenants Union Victoria.